Ebola virus virion Image credit: By CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Nigerian authorities on Monday confirmed a second case of Ebola
in Africa’s most populous country. According to the Associated Press report, this is an “alarming setback” in the battle to stop the spread of a disease:
“The emergence of a second case raises serious concerns about the infection control practices in Nigeria, and also raise the specter that more cases could emerge.”
The confirmed second case in Nigeria is a doctor who had helped treat Nigeria’s first Ebola’ case — the Liberian-American man who died of Ebola on July 25, days after arriving in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos is Africa’s largest city with 21 million people. Nigeria’s Ebola cases are evidence of the dangerous role air travel can play in spreading such a disease.
According to the World Health Organization, in its August 4, 2014-update, the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone has infected 1,603 including 887 that have died. The outbreak was first identified in March in Guinea’s remote Forest Region.
Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak “is moving faster than our efforts to control it“:
“This is an unprecedented outbreak accompanied by unprecedented challenges. And these challenges are extraordinary.
This is the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa and involves the most deadly strain in the Ebola virus family, Chan said.
“If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.”
The New York times reports that lax quarantines undercut Africa’s Ebola fight. The loose enforcement of quarantines is deeply worrying doctors and health care workers trying to stop the rapid spread of the virus.
USA Today reported last week that airline travelers are not being screened for Ebola. Nevertheless, health officials urge airline crews to isolate passengers who show symptoms of the Ebola virus if they have recently traveled to the West African countries suffering an outbreak of the deadly disease.
But the World Health Organization isn’t recommending screening airline passengers leaving the region of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. Sick people are urged not to travel.
Yesterday it was reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally provided Airlines with interim guidelines on handling Ebola:
“If a passenger is suspected to have Ebola during a flight, the CDC says they should be separated from other travelers and that cabin crew must wear disposable gloves if there is a possibility of contact with that person’s bodily fluids.
Airline captains are required by law to report to the CDC any individuals suspected of carrying the Ebola virus before landing in the U.S.
The center also urged travelers who may have been exposed to Ebola to seek clearance from a doctor before traveling abroad.
‘People who have been exposed to Ebola virus disease should not travel on commercial airplanes until there is a period of monitoring for symptoms of illness lasting 21 days after exposure. Sick travelers should delay travel until cleared to travel by a doctor or public health authority,’ said the CDC in its statement.
Cabin-cleaning staff have also been advised to take extra precautions.”
The complete guidelines are available here.
Why did the CDC take so long to issue the guidelines? We have been fighting Ebola since 1976. In those thirty-odd years there have been 24 Ebola outbreaks. Why were such guidelines not prepared long ago?
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, during Monday’s press briefing, that the United States will not turn back flights from West Africa over concerns about the Ebola virus.
As far as I can tell, Dubai-based Emirates, the Mideast’s largest airline, is the only airline that has halted flights to the Ebola outbreak area.
According to USA Today, Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated the outbreak will take three to six months to contain under the best of circumstances. He said the risk to people in the USA is small.
I am not concerned about bringing the two Ebola virus infected health care workers to Atlanta for treatment. That appears to have all the appropriate precautions. Not everyone is as sanguine about that as I am. The Atlanta hospital treating one of the U.S. aid workers stricken with the Ebola virus, and preparing to receive a second, has received hate mail — “nasty emails” asking why the Ebola infected aid workers were allowed back into the country.
I am more concerned about some infected person flying to the U.S. and infecting others as happened in Nigeria. And Im concerned about people like the retired American doctor who was working with Ebola patients in West Africa returned to the United States — and put himself in quarantine. Sounds a little too relaxed — like what the New York Times found hindering that battle against Ebola in Africa.
On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Frieden said the Ebola outbreak could be controlled:
“We can stop it from spreading in hospitals and we can stop it in Africa [which] is really the source of the epidemic, ” Frieden said. “What we do know is that we know how to stop Ebola. It’s not easy but it can be done, and even in Africa. In fact, we have stopped every previous outbreak, and I’m confident we can stop this one.”
According to the BBC, the U.S. will be to send at least 50 public health experts to the Ebola outbreak area to combat the spread of the virus.
So can we trust the federal government to handle the Ebola outbreak if it gets to the United States? Right, the same government that has done such an incompetent job of implementing ObamaCare. And the same government that has done such an incompetent job of running the VA. The same Government that can’t control its borders. Has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention been left untouched by the blight of President Obama’s incompetence? What, me worry?